Jude Guaitamacchi is a TEDx speaker, trans, LGBTQ+ trainer, consultant, content creator and model

What is your professional background?

I am a trans, non-binary advocate, TEDx speaker, influencer, model, and actor in training.

In my early 20s I worked in entertainment TV production but left the industry after a few years. Having overcome extreme mental health difficulties in my childhood, I felt drawn to passing on my experience and helping inspire and empower younger generations. My 10-year public speaking career began working for the Amy Winehouse Foundation “Resilience Programme”, talking in schools across London. Over the years I established a career as an international public speaker. As I went on my own journey of self-discovery, the nature of my work evolved into specialised LGBTIQ+ & Trans Awareness (please note I intentionally placed the I before the Q to encourage intersex visibility). In 2020 I was cast in a Harrods Beauty Campaign and I was signed to agencies in both London & Paris. I have since grown a social media following on Instagram and TikTok using both platforms to educate wider audience talking openly about my experiences. I hope to continue to pave the way for further trans and non-binary representation in the world of fashion and beauty and be the role model I needed growing up, future generations to see themselves represented, empower themselves and celebrate who they are.

You describe yourself as a Transgender Diversity & Inclusion Trainer. What does that role involve? And what satisfaction do you get in that role?

I deliver workshops, talks and training for schools, private organisations, businesses and brands worldwide. I talk not only from personal experience, but offer an education that most of us never had growing up. Section 28 meant we weren’t allowed to learn anything LGBTIQ+ related until after 2003. I also ensure that organisations are up to date with local and national policy and legislation, offering consultancy when it comes to policy, guidelines, paperwork, language etc. However, I also work in education running classroom workshops and lectures for students, teachers and parents. Not having had the awareness or the language growing up I didn’t come out as trans until I was 30, so I really understand the value of this work. It’s incredibly rewarding to be the voice I needed to hear when I was young. I know it makes a difference and I’ve received lots of wonderful messages from ex-students who have let me know of the impact it has had on their lives and how they have gone on to thrive. I do believe that’s down to them but I’m glad I could be a small part of their journey.

What advice would you give to a young – or indeed older – person who is considering transitioning?

I would encourage that individual to listen to themselves and know that their journey is their own. It may take a period of time to understand what feels right to them and that may change over time. There have been lots of moments that I have felt unsure of myself and that’s okay. The most helpful thing I did for myself was to reach out for support from other trans and non-binary people. There are online groups, YouTubers, influencers and services especially for young people. I’d advise people to check out Mermaids and Not a Phase. Unfortunately the healthcare system in this country is severely underfunded and medically transition may feel out of reach. I thought the day would never come but here I am.

Trans issues and awareness have become increasingly high profile in recent years and it can be argued that trans people are gaining more acceptance. Do you agree with that – and what more needs to be done?

I’d say there is definitely more media representation than ever, but it’s the bare minimum. I’d like to see transgender protagonists in movies and TV shows, CEOs, leaders, directors, and much more equality at a structural level. In terms of transgender rights and equality, statistics also suggest that we are going backwards. Transphobic hate crime has quadrupled in the UK since 2015, trans employment inequality is rising, and general healthcare practitioners are rarely equipped to support our experiences. The majority of UK media outlets are pushing an anti-trans narrative and even our own government is working against us. I don’t like to be negative but I do want to be realistic. There needs to be a drastic intervention to support the transgender people in this country. I believe there needs to be much more ongoing education across the board in order to facilitate that change.

You were the first non-binary person to represent Harrods for their H Beauty campaign. What impact do you think that had?

It was a pivotal moment for me in my own life. I realised the world was opening up for non-binary representation. I think it was ground-breaking step forward for such a traditional brand and in my mind they really were leading the way. I know that campaign meant a lot to me and many others. It just so happened to be the first summer after my top surgery and being able to celebrate that for such a major campaign was incredible. As a beauty campaign, my phrase was “My beauty is being myself” and I realised that described my journey perfectly.

You say that you have battled with mental health issues. Do you think that there are specific mental health issues which affect LGBTQ+ people more than their heterosexual friends and allies, and how can one challenge those issues?

I have had an ongoing struggle with mental health throughout my life but lots of growth and healing along the way. I do think LGBTIQ+ people are more likely to struggle with mental health issues because of the challenges they have to face, the lack of social support and discrimination, sometimes from those closest to you. Many of us internalised a feeling of shame from a very young age which was reinforced through the society we grew up in. For example, part of my struggle with substance misuse and eating disorders would have a way to alleviate the discomfort of living with gender dysphoria for 30 years. It’s important not to pathologise LGBTIQ+ people because we are an entirely normal expression of human diversity. I’ve been through lots of forms of therapy, but one of the most healing experiences has been becoming my authentic self and aligning to the person within. As I gave myself permission to step out of the shadows and embrace who I really am instead of hiding in shame, I have been able to re-write the narrative of a story that was written for me.

What’s a typical day in the life of Jude?

My days vary, every day is different and I love that. I do like to stick to a routine and maintain a foundation of fitness and health. I travel a lot for work, and I’m often living out of a suitcase. I’ll either be speaking on a stage somewhere, or on a photoshoot, or creating content somewhere entirely random like on a boat in the middle of Barcelona. That’s the beauty of being your own boss, however balance can be hard to find.